Raptors Notes: Boucher, Dragic, Siakam, Banton

Nothing has gone as planned for Raptors big man Chris Boucher this season and it’s hard for him to explain why, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. After a breakout season in 2020/21 in which he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 60 games, Boucher has seen his playing time cut nearly in half as his numbers across the board have plummeted. His shooting has been particularly troubling as he has dropped from 51.4% to 37.2% from the field and from 38.3% to 18.4% from three-point range.

“I feel like I’ve been searching to get that feeling again, feeling like you’re doing the right thing and in the right spot,” Boucher said. “I’ve been missing that feeling … I’m not satisfied. These 10 games I played like I couldn’t play or wasn’t the player I’m supposed to (be).”

The slow start may be partially explained by a surgical procedure on a sprained finger that caused him to miss the preseason. Smith notes that Boucher didn’t return with the same energy and his shooting stroke was off as his misfired on 27 of his first 33 three-point attempts.

“I was doing so good in training camp, and then you get hurt in preseason,” Boucher said. “The team gets chemistry (when) you’re out of it. You’ve got to find a way to introduce yourself to the team.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • An injury to Fred VanVleet forced the Raptors to turn to Goran Dragic for the first time in three weeks Saturday night and the veteran guard logged a season-high 28 minutes, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Dragic may still be unlikely to finish the season with Toronto, Koreen adds, but he provides creativity and can be useful on a fill-in basis. “I was out of breath, but it was fine,” Dragic said. “I found out before the game so I was a little bit surprised, but I was ready.”
  • Pascal Siakam played nearly 35 minutes on Saturday and it appears his minutes restriction is about to be lifted, Koreen states in the same piece. Siakam played his third game since returning from shoulder surgery and has been lobbying the team’s director of sports science to clear him for full-time duty.
  • Rookie Dalano Banton, who has bounced back and forth between the Raptors and the G League, played for the fourth straight night Saturday, Koreen adds. “He’s carved out a role on this team maybe faster than anyone expected,” coach Nick Nurse said. “It was a little bit of a tricky situation, playing four in four. He wanted to play. There were some things he wanted to work on. For the big picture, it’s a good move for him and for the team.”
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